Hope Weekly
October 5, 2018
Today's reflection comes from Presiding Bishop Eaton.

This month marks the 501st anniversary of the  Reformation. Last year it was all Reformation all the time. It was our year!  
 
News, media and the public paid attention. Hundreds of Reformation-themed events took place. Documentaries were produced and joyful liturgies with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters were held. I have lost track of the number of "Flat Luther" photos that were taken. We walked with a spring in our step. We read  Martin Luther's Small Catechism together. Even Lutherans in parts of the U.S. where Lutherans are not dense were noticed!  
 
But the spotlight has dimmed, the public and the media have turned their eye to other things. Reformation 500 swag has taken up residence in the backs of closets and the bottoms of file drawers. And, I'd wager, our Small Catechisms sit alone and unopened on shelves and apps. This really is Oct. 32.  
 
But, dear church, now is the time for us to refocus our attention on the gospel of our freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation given to us through God's indescribable act of love in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Take out your Small Catechism and take a fresh look at Luther's clear and concise exposition of the faith.
 
To start, turn to Luther's explanation of the second article of the Apostles' Creed. In beautifully spare language, he lays out the truth about God and human nature: "I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father in eternity, and also a true human being, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord."
 
Two things jump out-the God of all creation, infinite and omnipotent, set aside all of that to become finite and helpless as the Christ child and the broken one on the cross, and this Jesus is Lord. There are many things that claim our attention and allegiance, but none of these can save us and none of these is Lord.  

Reformation 500 swag has taken up residence in the backs of closets and the bottoms of file drawers. And, I'd wager, our Small Catechisms sit alone and unopened on shelves and apps. This really is Oct. 32.

Luther continues: "He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being." He had a conservative and realistic assessment of humankind. Yes, we affirm with the psalmist that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), but it is also clear that we are seriously and terminally broken. We are a rebellious lot constantly rising up against God's good and gracious will and trying to set ourselves up as savior. This never ends well. And while there is pain in acknowledging that we are sinful, there is also freedom in confessing that truth.  
 
Here's the thing: we have to get past a kind of Billy Joel theology in which God sings "I Like You Just the Way You Are" to the realization that God does not like us just the way we are and in infinite love has done something about it. In Christ, Luther wrote, God has "purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death."  
 
Here is pure grace. It is God's action, not ours. We don't have to-in fact, we cannot-do anything to save ourselves or the world. God has done it.  
 
So now what? So now we live, really live, in freedom and in service. Luther wrote: "He has done all this in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally."  
 
This is what the world needs to see in us and hear from us-not a vindictive, capricious god who must be appeased, nor a purveyor of therapeutic moralism, but an all-powerful God who comes to us in humble human form to set us free from our murderous rebellion so we may be whole, holy and wholly devoted to joyful service.  This is most certainly true.
   
Living Generously
What did Jesus mean when He said, "Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it?" How often do we stop to consider the commitment Christ expects? He's not talking about writing a check or checking a box, but living a life that is completely focused on giving to others that which He has so graciously given to us.
 
In the coming weeks, we plan to address some of these questions and ideas as we begin a new series entitled Living Generously.
This sermon series is different than others we have done. It includes a series of films that tells the story of the Donovan family as they seek to understand what it means to live the words of Jesus. Each week we will see a glimpse of their journey as they take risks, experience suffering and joy, and find themselves transformed by the call of Jesus. You won't want to miss a single Sunday!
Life in Christ Class: Oct 14th 12:15-4:00
Hope will offer a "Life in Christ" class in the family lounge.  This class covers the basics of what we believe and how Hope is organized for ministry.  If you are interested in learning more about Hope, connecting with ministries, using your unique gifts for good or membership this class is for you.  We encourage you to RSVP through the office or connection card in worship.  Lunch will be provided and for those who have a need for childcare we will provide that as well.  
 
College Care Packages
On October 21st, we will be packaging care packages for Hope's college students. Here are the items we are in need of before then:
         Fun size candy bars or Halloween candy
Microwave popcorn
Packages of gum or mints
Packages of hot chocolate
Chapstick
Small size packages of Kleenex
Pocket-size hand sanitizer

Harvest Festival Oct 21
Set your soul on fire at Hope's Annual Harvest Festival
There will be fun for all ages including dinner, music and pumpkin carving - pumpkins & carving materials provided. Contact Kim Evans at 419-260-0524 with any questions.
 
Backpacks of Hope
We are excited to once again be providing backpacks for 18 children at Old Orchard elementary, to provide them with healthy, easy to make food every weekend. If you are interested in helping pack bags, join us on Tuesday mornings at 11:40 in the Family Lounge. Or talk to Pastor Kristin to arrange another time. We are also in need of donations of food items. This month we especially need cans of tuna fish, pasta (like spaghettios), soup, containers of Easy Mac, and peanut butter (10-16 ounces). Donations can be left on the white shelves between the family lounge and the sanctuary.